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Drawing Up a Cohabitation Agreement

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 15 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
Cohabitaion Agreement Married Partner

If you live with your partner but are not married then no matter how committed you are or how long you have been together, you will not be granted the same rights as married couples. This may seem unfair but unfortunately it is a fact and you need to be prepared for legal and financial issues that may affect you. Whether you end up separating or one of you dies, having a cohabitation agreement will make the painful situation a lot easier to navigate. Although it is not a legally binding contract, courts are becoming more willing to accept them and it is better than not having any proof of your intentions.

Bringing up the issue

Many couples avoid talking about finance, legalities and the end of a relationship as it can seem unromantic or like you are tempting fate. However, having the all important conversation will be a lot easier now than handling the legalities at the other end without it. When you approach your partner about the subject make sure it does not come across in an accusatory tone or as if you do not trust them. Talk about your fears and concerns and how you would want them to benefit, rather than yourself. Explain the pitfalls of not drawing up an agreement and then give them time to consider it - the likelihood is that they will see the light.

What it should cover

Before you set down the guidelines for your relationship you need to talk openly and honestly with your partner about your financial situation, what you expect from them and what you want your entitlements to be of one of you dies. The areas that the agreement should cover include:
  • Property owned by one partner
  • Property bought together - does it get split equally?
  • Debts that you had entering the relationship and incurred during it
  • Wills and inheritance - what will you leave to each other?
  • Arrangements for children

How to get started

If you have discussed drawing up a cohabitation agreement and both decide that it is the right thing to do then you need go about it properly. Although not entirely necessary it is advisable to seek independent legal advice to make sure you are clear about what you are doing. You need to clarify your intentions in writing and be very clear about what you want to happen so that it can't be interpreted in any other way. Be clear about financial amounts, where it will come from and where it will go to. The agreement needs to be signed and dated by you both in the presence of legal witnesses.

Although it may feel a bit scary and unnecessary to begin with, drawing up a cohabitation agreement will make you and your partner feel much more secure about your future. Talking about your expectations and wishes will make you both clear about what you want and how to carry it out. Knowing that you have done your best to ensure your partner's wellbeing if you pass away is a weight off your mind and if you split up then this preemptive paperwork will ease the stress and pain.

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As a cohabiting couple with a property owned 60/40% as ‘tenants in common’ - in the event of my death & with assets over the IHT threshold, will my partner have to move so the property can be sold for my family (who will inherit my entire estate) to pay IHT due on my share?Or can we make wills to defer the IHT and give him the right to continue to live in the property until he dies or has to go into a home?
Junejane - 15-Nov-18 @ 9:50 PM
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